Co and Counter Dependency

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Co-dependency and counter-dependency in the context of a relationship are both types of co-dependent behavior because the underlying reasons for both behaviors are the same these are:

1. Low Self Esteem brought about by feelings of shame

2. Fear of being alone

On the co-dependent side the co-dependent person desperately looks for a person who is prepared to put up with their shameful self. They will open up to this person because they feel that they feel they have a need to salve their consciousness about inflicting themselves on another person. They will do anything for that person including debasing themselves in order to keep them because they feel that they have no worth and that their partner will eventually realize this, they will adopt compliance behaviors.

On the counter-dependent side the counter-dependent person cannot face their shame and will do anything that it takes to avoid facing it which may involve virtually any type of addiction the most common of the traditional addictions being alcoholism. Another form of addiction even more common is the addiction to adrenalin in the form of anger at people in general and at their partner in particular. A counter-dependent person is afraid of opening up to another person possibly because they have been rejected or betrayed earlier in life but primarily because if they open up to another person they are also opening up to themselves and facing what they have refused to face. They try to bind their partner to them by threatening their partner and belittling them so that there partner will feel helpless and dependent on the counter dependent, they will adopt control behaviors.

In reality most co-dependent relationships have elements of both co-dependent and counter-dependent behavior in both co-dependents where each switches from one role to the other resulting in the push/pull effect often seen in codependent relationships, however usually each person in the relationship will predominately assume either the co-dependent or the counter-dependent role.

As a rule co-dependent people will subconsciously seek out counter-dependent people and counter-dependent people will subconsciously seek co-dependent people. Sometimes you do find two counter-dependents in a relationship where they are always fighting or two co-dependents in a relationship where they both feel aimless.

As a result of people being brought up with a male stereotype of men being strong, decisive and dominant and a female stereotype of women being caring, nurturing and submissive, then men are more likely to fall into the counter-dependent role and women are more likely to fall into a co-dependent role, although it must be noted that this is not always the case and there will be some relationships with a counter-dependent woman and a codependent man (the stereotypical hen pecked husband).

Recovery for the co-dependent in the co-dependent role involves them first accepting themselves and facing their shame. After which the co-dependent must learn to understand the subconscious co-dependent habits which are detrimental to their relationships in order to correct these behaviors.

Recovery for the co-dependent in the counter-dependent role can be much more problematic than for the co-dependent because they must first overcome any physical addiction they may have at which point their substance addiction will be replaced by adrenalin addiction resulting in anger irritability or resentment which is the normal behavior of a counter-dependent in a relationship who is not substance addicted.

The problem is that anger/irritation/resentment has the effect of making the angry person believe that he/she is always in the right. This makes it very difficult for them to be convinced of the extent of negativity in their behavior.

If reading this, you believe that you may be co-dependent either in the co-dependent or counter-dependent role, you may wish to seek counseling or join a Co-dependants Anonymous group. Most importantly you will need to be patient both with yourself and your partner because you need to remember that it took many years for you to become like you are so you can expect it will take time to modify your behavior.

Remember the goal here is for healthy relationships where all participants can lead healthy fulfilling lives.



Simon Meadowcroft

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